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Bush Buddy Ultra

Nov 10th, 2014 | Comments

In 2012 I started to look into options to cut down the use of my waste inducing gas stove, and while liquid fuel stoves would work (and also built one of those DIY meth stoves, out of two cans of Red Bull), I was quickly drawn by the idea of wood burning stoves and did some simple but empowering trials of DIY stoves to get myself started.

While my own builds consisted merely of tin cans with ventilation and feeding holes cut into them, more advanced commercial products were already available, and after a closer look to some of those online, I decided to get a Canadian cottage product, a Bush Buddy.

Bush Buddy is a product of Fritz Handel, handmade in Iskut. While relying on the proven concept of double-walled downdraft gasifier, mr. Handel has succeeded in creating a compact and lightweight, yet very functional product, that still today is a reference for similar stoves (and sadly also for few ripped off replicas). It’s made of stainless steel of varying thickness and as far as I can see, no changes to the physical dimensions or features have been made since I purchased mine.

The stove is today available directly from Fritz himself at Bushbuddy.ca, and also from his apprentice Jeff at Nomadic Stove Company, who currently sells three versions of the stove: Trekker with 0.08" outer shell, and two Ultra versions with 0.06" and 0.04" outer shells. My stove is the 0.04" Ultra.

Since purchasing this stove, I have hardly used anything else, be it for brewing a cup of coffee, simmering a bowl of risotto or simply boiling water for a freeze dried meal. Consuming little fuel - few handful of twigs will boil you a pot of water - it is low impact and as the bottom does not heat up, it leaves behind nothing but a pinch of ash.

As for the wear and tear in two and a half years I’ve had it, looking very closely, I can find a ding or two from knocking it over or rolling it down a rock, but aside of the typical soot and coloring of metal from the heat, it is as good as new. As this is the slimmest model, the walls do give in if pressed lightly, but spring back up when released, leaving no permanent deformation. It is recommended to wrap a cloth around the stove while stored inside the pot, but I haven’t felt the need to take such precaution. There is absolutely no signs of corrosion and all the welds and joints are intact - and I have not been babying it. Hence I can attest that, unless you use it as a hammer, it could easily be a life-long purchase.

Carrying your Bush Buddy is made easy by selecting appropriately sized pot to store it in. I use a 1100 ml Tibetan Titanium pot which is a perfect fit. This pot, as far as I know, is no longer available, but you should not have problems finding a suitable pot, as the diameter of the Bush Buddy is (smartly) the same as a 230 g and 450 g (threaded) gas cartridges. Often pots are made to take in one of these and if yours holds a 450 g cartridge also height-wise, it’s a sure fit also for the Bush Buddy (which is just a tad shorter).

When I suspect I might have trouble finding fuel for the wood stove or wish to have a backup, I also bring in a tiny titanium gas stove (Monatauk Gnat), which folds inside the Bush Buddy. A fire steel and a selection of tinder (or pre-cut twigs) also fits inside, completing a full kit stoved in a DIY cuben fiber sack - plus one of those half-emptied gas cartridges I still have lying around, carried separately if needed. For tinder, I bring pieces of tar infused wood (tervas, in Finnish), some cotton balls mixed with petroleum jelly and couple of Esbit solid fuel tablets, all of which can be lit up easily with fire steel.

If you are in the market for a wood burning stove, Bush Buddy should be very high on your list. And if you choose to buy one, make sure you get it directly from Fritz or from Nomadic Stove Company, accepting no substitutes. To learn a bit more about the man behind the product, read the interview at Hiking in Finland.

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